Telling your business or sharing too much personal information with others is a topic that many Christians wrestle with. On one hand, the Bible tells us to confess our sins to each other and to bear one another’s burdens (James 5:16, Galatians 6:2). However, it also warns us to be careful who we trust and not to cast pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6).
So what is the right balance? When should we keep matters private versus opening up to others? Here are some key principles the Bible provides about discerning when to tell your business:
As Christians, we are called to live in community with fellow believers. We are members of one body and need each other for support, accountability, prayer and encouragement (Romans 12:4-5; Hebrews 10:24-25).
However, the Bible makes it clear there is a difference between healthy vulnerability/transparency and oversharing or gossip. The words we speak carry power and consequences (Proverbs 18:21). We need wisdom to know when it’s appropriate to open up versus when it is better to keep matters private.
Here are some key takeaways on what the Bible teaches about telling your business:
- Be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19)
- Don’t gossip or slander others (Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 16:28)
- Confess your sins to those affected & to spiritual leaders (James 5:16; Matthew 18:15-17)
- Be careful who you trust & don’t cast pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6)
- Speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)
- Edify others with your words (Ephesians 4:29)
- Maintain appropriate confidentiality when asked (Proverbs 11:13)
With these principles in mind, let’s explore what the Bible says in more detail about telling your business and maintaining healthy boundaries with what we share.
Be Slow to Speak
Proverbs 10:19 reminds us that “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 advises “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”
As Christians, we need to be cautious and think carefully before speaking. We should be swift to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19). Oftentimes the less said, the better. As Proverbs 17:28 notes “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”
Being a good listener shows love and wisdom. When we are eager to share our thoughts and experiences, we can easily end up dominating conversations in pride. Scripture reminds us “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). The Lord wants us to be humble, not seeking attention or feeling compelled to tell our business. “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2).
Do Not Gossip or Slander
The Bible strongly warns against gossip, backbiting and slander. “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:16). “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).
When we talk poorly about others behind their backs, we sow strife and dissension. “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19). As children of God, we are called to build others up with our words and reflect Christ through speaking truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
The tongue has incredible power and we need to wield it wisely. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Gossip and slander destroy relationships and reputations. So we must guard against the temptation to participate. “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3).
Confess Your Sins When Appropriate
While the Bible warns against idle talk and gossip, it does encourage confessing our sins in certain circumstances. Scripture teaches we should confess privately to those we’ve harmed and to spiritual leaders when looking for guidance and restoration.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). When we’ve sinned against someone, taking responsibility is important for repairing the breach. “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
The Bible also encourages confessing sins and weaknesses to spiritual leaders who can provide counsel, accountability and prayer. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). Seeking godly guidance can be helpful on our spiritual journeys.
However, we should exercise discretion and not treat pastors or mentors like therapists or overburden them with too much personal detail. The purpose should be seeking growth and healing, not just venting emotions. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1).
Be Careful Who You Trust
While confession can be freeing, Scripture cautions us to be careful who we open up to. Not everyone has our best interests at heart. Jesus warned “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6).
Proverbs advises “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy” (Proverbs 14:10). There are some personal matters that are better kept between you, the Lord and maybe a few trusted advisors. Use discernment. “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26).
Do not be too quick to open your heart to new acquaintances. “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23). Seek wise counsel on when and what details to share when asking for support. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Your testimony can be used to help others, but use discretion about private matters.
Speak Truth in Love
The Bible makes it clear our words carry weight. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Therefore, as believers we are called to build others up with our speech and reflect God’s grace in how we communicate.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). Even when correcting or confronting, we are to do it gently and with the motivation of love. “If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1).
Of course, telling the truth is not the same as being brutally honest without tact. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). As 1 Peter 3:15 notes “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
As believers, we want our words to build up, not tear down. “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29). Being thoughtful about how we speak truth is crucial for maintaining unity and harmony in the Body of Christ.
Edify Others with Your Words
Not only should we avoid gossip and slander, Scripture provides positive instruction on how our words should be used to build others up. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
Proverbs 15:23 notes “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!” Our conversations should aim to give grace to those who hear us. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).
Even when admonishing fellow believers, the motivation should be restoration. “If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1). Harsh criticism often backfires, while patience and understanding open hearts to change.
Of course, edification also means we should be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Building others up may require gently challenging them at times. The goal is that “we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
Maintain Confidentiality When Asked
The Bible advises us to be trustworthy and demonstrate discretion with matters shared in confidence. “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19). If someone asks us not to share something further, we should honor that request.
“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered” (Proverbs 11:13). Keeping appropriate confidences shows maturity and preserves trust in relationships.
That being said, we should be discerning about promises of secrecy that may be attempting to hide sinful behavior or abuse. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). If serious misconduct is revealed, we have a duty to protect victims from harm.
Above all, we need God’s wisdom and guidance when navigating what to keep confidential versus what issues may need to be addressed for safety or repentance. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). As believers, our highest loyalty is to God’s truth and righteousness.
Telling your business or sharing personal information requires wisdom and discernment. The Bible provides principles to guide us, such as being slow to speak, avoiding gossip, and using our words to build others up. Appropriate confession of sins and vulnerabilities has its place when done carefully and for the right reasons. Trustworthy confidence also demonstrates Christian love.
Overall, as disciples of Jesus we want to use our speech honorably. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can know when it is wise to speak versus when it is better to remain silent.
May the Lord give us wisdom to know when and how much to tell our business. Our goal should always be to glorify God, walk in love, and edify others with our words.